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The dangers faced by firefighters are not always at the fire. The vehicles and equipment they use can also cause serious injuries and death as a report from Texas indicates.

Civil suit filed against fire truck maker

The parents of an Amarillo firefighter killed when he fell out of the truck while en route to a call last year have filed a lawsuit against the vehicle’s makers.

Firefighter Christopher Brian Hunton suffered fatal injuries when he fell through the left rear passenger door of an American LaFrance ladder truck. The truck was rounding a turn.

A suit filed Tuesday alleges negligence by the truck’s makers and service providers and challenges the constitutionality of the state’s caps on punitive damages in product liability cases, according to a report in Wednesday editions of the Amarillo Globe-News.

The left rear passenger door had a tendency to open while the truck was being operated, according to a state fire marshal report. Hunton wasn’t wearing his seat belt at the time of the accident.

The suit claims that American LaFrance LLC, Freightliner LLC, Patriarch Partners LLC, Dalmatian Corp. and DaimlerChrysler Corp. designed the vehicle with a defective and dangerous door latch system and failed to give appropriate warnings of danger.

The suit also challenges the constitutionality of the state’s $750,000 cap on punitive damages in a product liability suit.

Hunton, 27, died two days after he fell from the truck as firefighters were responding to a call April 23, 2005.

Hunton sat in the back left passenger seat, which faces the truck’s rear and is directly behind the driver. The door apparently flew open as the truck went through a slight dip while making its turn.

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